Review: Smallville 8×1

Flying blind?


In the US: Thursdays, 8/7c, The CW

You just can’t keep a good Superman down, can you? We are now officially entering year eight of Smallville, aka Superman: The Early Years. But as you might expect, it’s starting to show its age a little.

Tom Welling, despite playing a character who’s only just sort of cleared college age, is now in his 30s, and the rest of the cast aren’t as young and vigourous as they once were either – or they’ve scarpered for the hills as soon as they were free of their contracts at the end of the last season. The creative force behind the show, Miles Millar and Alfred Gough, have also left, leaving their deputies in charge.

So with a skeleton crew on board and no captains at the helm any more, is season eight going to flounder and crash onto the rocks?

In comparison to previous season openers, season eight’s feels a little more sedate and a little less stupid. It also feels as though there’s been a definite clearing of the decks, with plenty of the general cruft that’s built up over the last seven years being swept away and thrown overboard. Gone from the titles are Lex Luthor, Lana Lang, and Supergirl; say hello to their replacements, the return of Green Arrow and the justifiably promoted Allison Mack.

As of yet, naughty old supervillain Doomsday hasn’t made his appearance, so it’s too early to judge whether he’ll be a good replacement for Lex; Lex’s corporate successor is pretty much the standard “I’m a woman who got to the top so I must be an evil bitch” character designed to intimidate girls from careers in business and is certainly not as good as old baldie.

The show does feel a little more grown up than it did last year and there’s no great big magic reset button that restored everything to the status quo, for which we can all be truly thankful. By the end of this first episode, the various changes to the show’s set-up are equally promising – hopefully, we’ll be on to new and better thing this season.

All the same, it does feel a little tired, and a little bereft of flair. If this isn’t the last season, I’ll be very surprised. Probably.

Here are a couple of YouTube clips


  • Rob Buckley

    I’m Rob Buckley, a journalist who writes for UK media magazines that most people have never heard of although you might have heard me on the podcast Lockdown Land or Radio 5 Live’s Saturday Edition or Afternoon Edition. I’ve edited Dreamwatch, Sprocket and Cambridge Film Festival Daily; been technical editor for TV producers magazine Televisual; reviewed films for the short-lived newspaper Cambridge Insider; written features for the even shorter-lived newspaper Soho Independent; and was regularly sarcastic about television on the blink-and-you-missed-it “web site for urban hedonists” The Tribe. Since going freelance, I've contributed to the likes of Broadcast, Total Content + Media, Action TV, Off The Telly, Action Network, TV Scoop and The Custard TV.

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